More on Mauna Kea
I am long overdue for a post but best not to waste time with a myriad of excuses ( as good as they may be ) and get right to the point.
I had a most welcome revelation a few weeks back when an acquaintance asked me what was happening with the situation on Mauna Kea and seemed to be looking to me for an update. The first thing I thought was –someone actually reads my blog!!:) I basked in that for a few minutes before looking at my calendar to set aside some quality time to do the research required to check in on the current situation on the mountain. I wasn’t looking forward to it because, as I have mentioned in my previous posts on this subject, getting accurate and unbiased information on this is like pulling hen’s teeth, as the old saying goes. And this time was no different.
Researching something requires a lot of cross referencing of articles and websites and especially dates. I had found some good sources in the past but when I checked their sites and posts, there was very little that was recent and most of it , I had covered in past posts. So –as far as I could determine a few weeks back, the elders, activists and the Guardians of the mountain, left in April of 2020 when the pandemic broke out, for very obvious reasons. The Guardians stated that they remain committed to stopping TMT and the TMT folks stated their intention to move forward with the project, even though construction was still suspended. Sounds like a standoff to me.
But it appears that there has been a small but hopeful breakthrough since then. I found 2 current Associated Press articles, February and March of this year, reporting that the Hawaiian legislature will be appointing a working group to develop recommendations for new management of Mauna Kea. There would be representatives from the House of Representatives as well 7 Native Hawaiians nominated by Indigenous organizations, in addition to reps from the University Board of Regents and Mauna Kea Observatories. Although there was no specific mention of the TMT project, it was obvious that it was the proverbial elephant in the room. Representative Patrick Branco, a Democrat and native Hawaiian, stated that he recognized that trauma and hurt of the Indigenous people but “I do feel that in discussion and hard discussions, there can be a resolution.” While that sounds promising as a good place to start, others questioned the fairness of the proposed working group, anticipating that most are already in favour of advancing the TMT project. This kind of dissension is to be expected when taking on what I believe is the monumental (but not impossible) task of finding the middle ground in this modern day conflict between science and religion. Time will tell, I suppose, but it’s always a good sign when people are talking—as long as they are also listening!!
In closing, the last thing that I checked was the TMT website, recognizing that is not the most unbiased source of information. The site quoted a March 2020 poll conducted by Ward Research which showed that 61% of Hawaiian residents support moving ahead with the construction of TMT while 32% are opposed. The TMT External Relations went on to say that they recognized the importance of understanding how Hawaii residents feel about the project and the feel that the majority of residents understand the importance of the project to Hawaii’s economy and education sector. They conclude the statement with this observation: “They (the people of Hawaii) also understand that TMT will likely revolutionize humankind’s understanding of the universe and will help to ensure that Hawaii remains the global leader in astronomy.”
I hope (and pray) that both sides can work together to find that sweet middle ground to do just that. There is so much to be gained if they can. Stay tuned.